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Elliott Brown Classic Architecture
21 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Roundhouse Birmingham: a timeline to reopening

Finally Roundhouse Birmingham has reopened to the public. Located at Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street, it is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline. Originally opened in 1874, to the designs of W. H. Ward as the Corporation Depot. Also used by the London and North Western Railway as a railway depot at the time. Now co-owned by the Canal & River Trust and National Trust.

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Roundhouse Birmingham: a timeline to reopening





Finally Roundhouse Birmingham has reopened to the public. Located at Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street, it is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline. Originally opened in 1874, to the designs of W. H. Ward as the Corporation Depot. Also used by the London and North Western Railway as a railway depot at the time. Now co-owned by the Canal & River Trust and National Trust.


History of Roundhouse Birmingham

A crescent shaped Grade II* listed building, it was built for the Corporation of Birmingham from 1873 to 1874, to the designs of William Henry Ward (he also designed the Great Western Arcade). The two gatehouses facing the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street were completed in 1885. It was originally named Corporation Wharf, as it was near the Birmingham Canal. It was also used as a large railway depot for the London and North Western Railway, on the Stour Valley Line.

The site was arranged to create a highly secure internal storage environment, for open air storage, horses and maintenance.

Pevsner describes it having a pair of picturesque Gothic lodges. And that inside was more of a semicircular range with a cartway running under it's centre to the canal. With evocative cobbled pavements.

The building was used by the City of Birmingham Engineers Department until the 1980s, when it became redundant and was sold. It was bought by British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) in 2001.

Unused for many years, other than part of it as a nursery school, the Canal & River Trust and the National Trust gained funding in 2017 for the restoration of the building, and to open it up to the public. It should have opened in 2020, but delays due to the pandemic, means it won't open now until at least late summer 2021.

Some of the earliest tours by narrowboat have started in late July 2021, during the summer heatwave.

 

2009

Some of my earliest photos of the Roundhouse, taken from the opposite towpath on the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline, between the Sheepcote Street Bridge and St Vincent Street Bridge.

 

15th May 2009

At the time there was a lot of narrowboats moored up on both sides of the towpath next to the Roundhouse.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (May 2009) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

There was still a brick wall alongside the Roundhouse, part of it would be later removed when restoration works began years later.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (May 2009) (3).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

 

2013

A look at the pair of gatehouses from the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street, and the first look at the inside of the horseshoe courtyard for the first time. A few months later, I saw the Roundhouse close up from the towpath.

 

23rd February 2013

At the time the Roundhouse for for sale or to let, and the junction here was a bit different.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Roundhouse BCN Mainline (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Signs on the gate "Warning Kingdom Security".

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Feb 2013).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

This is what the horseshoe courtyard looked like at the time, years before the restoration began.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Roundhouse BCN Mainline (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

18th May 2013

A look through the railings to the back of the Roundhouse. The former Fiddle & Bone pub on the right was derelict at the time, but would be restored and reopen a few years later.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (May 2013) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

 

2015

The Fiddle & Bone pub was restored and reopened, so time to look at the Roundhouse again from the canalside towpath.

 

26th December 2015

It was nice to see the Fiddle & Bone restored. They put out painted picnic benches at the time, and they sealed off the arches in the Roundhouse behind.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2015) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

This area was all part of the Fiddle & Bone beer garden, at the back of the Roundhouse.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2015) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

2017

A few years later, the Fiddle & Bone was renamed to The Distillery.

 

26th October 2017

By now, the Roundhouse was co-owned by the National Trust and Canal & River Trust, and within a few years would begin work to restore the building. Meanwhile I was having a look at The Distillery from the opposite side of the canal.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Oct 2017) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Two years after seeing The Distillery, the Roundhouse next door would start to get restored.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Oct 2017) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

There is an entrance to the pub from the canalside, there was formerly one from the first floor on Sheepcote Street.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Oct 2017) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

2019

During the BCN 250 celebrations, I noticed that work to restored the Roundhouse had begun.

 

2nd November 2019

There was a parade of narrowboats up and down the Birmingham Canal Navigations Mainline at the time for BCN 250, while the Roundhouse was under scaffolding.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Nov 2019).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Scaffolding up the right hand side of the Roundhouse, they were also replacing the old windows.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Nov 2019) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Now called Roundhouse Birmingham. The area out front was still a beer garden for The Distillery, but the picnic benches were no longer painted.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Nov 2019) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

It should have been completed and reopened by 2020, but the pandemic resulted in it being delayed until 2021.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Nov 2019) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

While at the time this was the beer garden of The Distillery, in future it would (probably) also act as the public entrance to Roundhouse Birmingham.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Nov 2019) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

27th December 2019

One last update before the end of 2019, and before I heard about the coming virus. The pair of lodges were under scaffolding. Road layout had changed on St Vincent Street, near Sheepcote Street.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2019) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Part of the Roundhouse already had new windows on one side.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2019) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Window view of another window.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2019) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Similar window shot as the last one.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2019) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

This area (below) had a temporary wooden hoarding in place. They would later install a window here. Probably an area for people to view the canal out of the Roundhouse?

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Dec 2019) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

2021

My first major photo update of the Roundhouse since the pandemic began, and in time for it opening to the public to the first time.

 

14th July 2021

Views of the Roundhouse from the Sheepcote Street Bridge. Including the Annatomix rustic horse street art.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Jul 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The Distillery is on the right. Entrance from the canalside, they make Roundhouse Gin here.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Jul 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The pair of Victorian lodges fully restored, at the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent Street. Was a homeless man sitting close to the gate, so didn't want to get too close to him.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Jul 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A zoom in beyond the gate to the horseshoe courtyard area.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rndhse Bham (Jul 2021) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

20th July 2021

Views from the opposite side of the BCN Mainline canal, towards the Roundhouse. I walked past the Victoria narrowboat dropping off visitors, below the Sheepcote Street bridge.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Famed Birmingham street artist Annatomix was commissioned to paint this wall, she has painted a rustic horse.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Onto St Vincent Street, a view towards this gate, all fully restored, with new windows installed.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The horseshoe shaped courtyard, seen inside of the gate from the St Vincent Street corner with Sheepcote Street. Some of the bricks on the cobbled surface have been replaced.

dndimg alt="Roundhouse Birmingham" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rhouse Bham 20072021 (6).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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Elliott Brown Classic Architecture
07 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Stratford House: a timber framed survivor dating to 1601

Located in Highgate near Highgate Park is a remarkable survival. Stratford House is close to Highgate Middleway on the no 50 bus route. You can see it from the bus on Moseley Road and New Moseley Road. Built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget, it was once surrounded by farmland. In recent years it's been offices and a swingers club. A fire in 2015, led to restoration 2016.

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Stratford House: a timber framed survivor dating to 1601





Located in Highgate near Highgate Park is a remarkable survival. Stratford House is close to Highgate Middleway on the no 50 bus route. You can see it from the bus on Moseley Road and New Moseley Road. Built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget, it was once surrounded by farmland. In recent years it's been offices and a swingers club. A fire in 2015, led to restoration 2016.


On the trail between Digbeth and Kings Heath, if you are getting the no 50 National Express West Midlands Platinum bus (you can catch it from outside Selfridges on Moor Street in the City Centre). Heading past Highgate Park on Moseley Road, you will spot Stratford House. One of the oldest remaining buildings within the City Centre and within the middle ring road, dating to 1601 (last few years of Tudor and Elizabethan England).

 

Stratford House is located at 82 Stratford Place, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0HT. Since 2020 it has been the offices of Age UK Birmingham and Age UK Sandwell.

 

I personally think it could become a museum, run by the Birmingham Museums Trust, or the National Trust. With period furniture. The noise from the passing traffic on Highgate Middleway might causes issues though.

 

The history of Stratford House

The timber framed manor house was built in 1601 for Ambrose Rotton and his wife Bridget. It was originally part of a 20 acre farm that Ambrose owned. He farmed sheep, pigs, oxen and cows on the land.

In 1840, a goods yard was opened nearby at Camp Hill by the Midland Railway. The companies successor, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, in 1926 bought the house and wanted to demolish it. There was a public outcry and the house was saved.

There was further plans to demolish the house in the 1950s due to it dilapidated state. But it was bought by Ivor Adams in 1954 and it was saved. It has been a Grade II* listed building since 1952.

 

The following two images taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Collection, Digital Image Resourse and are in the Public Domain and dates to the early 1950s. Under the Creative Commons Zero Licence (CCO).

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1996V79 Stratford House Camp Hill Birmingham.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />Stratford House in 1950. Ink drawing by John L. Baker. Topographical view of Birmingham, from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection.

 

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1976V92 Stratford Place Birmingham.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />Old houses, Stratford Place, Birmingham in 1951. Watercolour. By Allen Edward Everitt. Topographical view of Birmingham, from the Birmingham Museums Trust collection.

 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the house was home to Network Records, one of the UK's exponents of Techno music.

 

Stratford House, 2010

By the late 2000s and early 2010s it was occupied by Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies (BCAT).

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House 2010.JPG" style="width: 100%;" />Stratford House on Stratford Place in 2010.

 

Stratford House, 2016

In 2014 it was a swingers club called the Tudor Lounge (who signed a 10 year lease with Birmingham City Council). This opened in January 2015, but by December 2015 there was a major fire here. The building was extensively restored during 2016.

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (Apr 2016) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (Apr 2016) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />Restoration of Stratford House during April 2016. Views from the no 50 bus.

 

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (May 2016) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (May 2016) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />Restoration of Stratford House during May 2016. Seen from the Moseley Road in Highgate.

 

Stratford House, 2018

By 2018, Stratford House was fully restored, and was available to let.

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (April 2018).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford House (Apr 2018).jpg" style="width: 100%;" /> Stratford House fully restored as of April 2018

 

Stratford House, 2021

From 2020, the building is now home to Age UK Birmingham and Age UK Sandwell. In April 2021, Birmingham City Council approved plans for the road in front of Stratford House to be closed to create a Knott Garden. It lies within the Clean Air Zone. If you go onto Highgate Middleway, that is outside of the zone.

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford Place Highgate (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford Place Highgate (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford Place Highgate (Jun 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="Stratford House" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Stratford Place Highgate (Jun 2021) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />Stratford House at the end of June 2021.

 

Modern 21st Century photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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Elliott Brown Classic Architecture
05 Jul 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Old Crown in Digbeth, dating back to 1368!

The Old Crown in Digbeth claims to date back to 1368. The Grade II* listed building as it is now is more likely to have been built between 1450 and 1500, and could have been established as an inn from the 16th or 17th centuries. It has seen many changes over the centuries. Including road widening in the mid 20th century, and soon the Eastside Metro Extension (by the mid 2020s).

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The Old Crown in Digbeth, dating back to 1368!





The Old Crown in Digbeth claims to date back to 1368. The Grade II* listed building as it is now is more likely to have been built between 1450 and 1500, and could have been established as an inn from the 16th or 17th centuries. It has seen many changes over the centuries. Including road widening in the mid 20th century, and soon the Eastside Metro Extension (by the mid 2020s).


One of the oldest buildings in Birmingham, including within what is now the City Centre (as far as the middle ring road), is The Old Crown. They claim to date back to about 1368. For instance they celebrated their 649th birthday in 2017 with a ribbon on one of the doors.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Old Crown Dbeth (Sep 2017) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

So as of 2021 they are now 653 years old!

 

History of The Old Crown

The Old Crown was probably built sometime between the year 1450 and 1500 (in Medieval and early Tudor times). Some evidence dating back to 1492. A man visiting Birmingham in 1538 described the building as a "mansion house made of timber". It is thought that the building was originally built as the Guildhall and School of St. John, Deritend. In 1589 the building was bought by "John Dyckson, alias Bayleys". It remained in the Dixon family for the next 100 years. It may have began to be used as an inn from this time, especially in the years following the Spanish Armada, and gained the name "Crown".

Although later evidence suggests it was used as an inn by around 1626, and being called the Crowne by 1666. During 1643, the forces of Prince Rupert attacking Birmingham during the Civil War (on the way to fire his musket at the cockerel of the old St Martin's Church), there was some skirmishes near the inn.

The house was converted into two houses in 1684, and then into three by 1693. It remained three houses until the 19th century. Joshua Toulmin Smith saved the building in 1851, from demolition by the Corporation of Birmingham (who wanted to improve the street). The Corporation again proposed to knock it down in 1856 and 1862, but Smith saved it each time.

 

The following three Public Domain Dedication images taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Collection.

An etching of the Old Crown Inn, Deritend, Birmingham, 1895-1900, by Samuel Henry Baker (d. 1909).

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1970V130 Old Crown Inn Deritend.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A watercolour painting by George Warren Blackham of the Old Crown Inn Deritend, Birmingham. Probably in the late 19th century.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1956V372 Old Crown Inn Deritend Birmingham.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

An etching of the Old Crown Inn, Deritend, Birmingham by J. Alfred Swatkins. Possibly late 19th or early 20th century, with the old tram tracks.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/1965V8 Old Crown Inn Deritend Birmingham.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

High Street Deritend, outside of The Old Crown was widened and reopened by 1955. This included removing the old tram tracks, and the old cobbled road surface. Buildings opposite were demolished, and the Bull Ring Trading Estate was later built there (on the site of St. John's Church, Deritend, which was demolished in 1947, after suffering damage during the Second World War in 1940).

 

Two vintage photos taken by the late Phyllis Nicklin, who was a tutor in Geography in the former Department of Extramural Studies, University of Birmingham. They were originally digitised by BrumPic.

The Old Crown in Digbeth taken by Phyllis Nicklin (University of Birmingham). This was probably before the road was widened in the mid 1950s.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/The Old Crown P Nicklin 2.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The Old Crown in Digbeth, taken in 1960 by Phyllis Nicklin (University of Birmingham). High Street Deritend had been widened in the 1950s.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown P Nicklin.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />


The Old Crown was bought by the Brennan family in 1991. In the summer of 1994, they found an old well, while doing repairs, when they were clearing out the old sheds at the rear of the property, which at the time had been closed off for more than 100 years. The Brennan family reopened the pub in 1998.

The pub is a Grade II* listed building (since 1952) at 186, 187 and 188 High Street Deritend, and is on the corner of Heath Mill Lane. It is situated to the right of the Custard Factory.

As of the summer of 2021, roadworks are taking place down on the Digbeth High Street. This is to build the Eastside Metro Extension. Which will be starting properly from July 2021. The route will go past the HS2 Curzon Street Station. Work has also began to built a Sprint bus route towards Solihull and Coventry on the A45 (via the Small Heath Highway and Coventry Road). It could be ready in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

The Old Crown in the 21st Century

The following images of The Old Crown were taken during October 2009 by Elliott Brown. This was on the first day that I would take photos around the Digbeth area.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (2).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

The Old Crown 1368.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (4).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (5).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (7).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (8).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (10).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (12).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (14).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

The Beer Garden / car park at the back from Heath Mill Lane.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Oct 2009) (16).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The Old Crown Coffee Club, seen from High Street Deritend during January 2014.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Jan 2014).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Irish flags and bunting up, at The Old Crown, during March 2014 for the St Patrick's Day Festival. The parade used to take place down the Digbeth High Street each March until 2019.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Mar 2014) (1).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

 

A red ribbon on The Old Crown during November 2016, getting ready for Christmas. This view taken from the bus.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Nov 2016).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The Old Crown during March 2017 for St Patrick's Day. Getting ready for The Father Ted's Lampa. The St Patrick's Fundraiser.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Digbeth 110318.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Seen in March 2018, with snow on the roof, was The Old Crown. Again getting ready for St Patrick's Day. The beer garden around the back, became the Guinness Village, to show the England vs Ireland Six Nations Rugby Union match on the TV. 

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Mar 2018) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

One year on, to March 2019. St Patrick's Day again at The Old Crown. This time it had signs on it for 13 Hop House Lager.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Mar 2019) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Passing The Old Crown in Digbeth on the no 4 bus during the middle of June 2021. This was during the Euro 2020 match between England and Croatia.

dndimg alt="The Old Crown Digbeth" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Old Crown Dbeth (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Modern 21st Century photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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Elliott Brown Rivers, lakes & canals
28 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
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Olton Reservoir: only viewable from the train between Solihull and Olton

There is a reservoir in Olton, Solihull. It is private, so there is no way for members of the public to walk around it. But you can spot Olton Reservoir from the train between Olton and Solihull, on the bridge that goes over the Warwick Road. It is used by Olton Mere Sailing Club. It was built in 1799 to supply water to the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, later part of the Grand Union Canal.

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Olton Reservoir: only viewable from the train between Solihull and Olton





There is a reservoir in Olton, Solihull. It is private, so there is no way for members of the public to walk around it. But you can spot Olton Reservoir from the train between Olton and Solihull, on the bridge that goes over the Warwick Road. It is used by Olton Mere Sailing Club. It was built in 1799 to supply water to the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, later part of the Grand Union Canal.


Olton Reservoir

Located near the Chiltern Mainline and the Warwick Road in Olton, Solihull is Olton Reservoir. From the road / pavement it is a bit hard to see. But if you catch a train with West Midlands Railway (or Chiltern Railways) between Olton and Solihull (or in the other direction), you might be able to see the reservoir through the railway bridge that crosses the Warwick Road.

 

History of Olton Reservoir

Olton Mere was constructed as a reservoir to act as a feeder for the Warwick and Birmingham Canal in 1799 (it became part of the Grand Union Canal from 1927 onwards, after being purchased by the Regents Canal Company). The Mere was formed from marshland fed by Folly Brook (now Hatchford Brook). The Mere was extended in 1834 to increase the capacity in order to supply up to 150 locks.

It is the largest of the few areas of open water in Solihull and supports a large number of waterfowl. The woodland surrounding the Mere has remained undisturbed for many years, providing an important habitat for plants and animals.

There is no public access to the Mere but there is a good view of the Mere from the trains travelling between Solihull and Olton. Sailing on the Mere started in 1899 when five residents of St Bernard’s Road leased the reservoir from the canal company. A club was formed for sailing, fishing and shooting, although shooting was suspended in 1926 owing to a shortage of wildfowl.

The reservoir is now privately owned by the Canal & River Trust, who in turn lease it to the Olton Mere Sailing Club.

 

Below is the satellite hybrid view of Olton Reservoir on Google Maps.

dndimg alt="Olton Reservoir" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Olton Res Google Maps.jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

On my YouTube video above (in the introduction), recorded in early February 2017 on a London Midland Class 172 train from Acocks Green to Solihull. We pass Olton Reservoir from 2:20 to about 2:43.

 

Three video screenshots from that video. First screenshot passing over the Warwick Road Railway Bridge.

dndimg alt="Olton Reservoir" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Olton Reservoir (Feb 2017) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Second screenshot, a view of Olton Reservoir from the train.

dndimg alt="Olton Reservoir" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Olton Reservoir (Feb 2017) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The view continues, although it was sunny, and the sun was on that side of the train.

dndimg alt="Olton Reservoir" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Olton Reservoir (Feb 2017) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

A more recent view of Olton Reservoir, taken from the train, back in April 2018 (over 3 years ago at the time of this post). Time time caught some yachts on the reservoir from the Olton Mere Sailing Club. This was taken from a Chiltern Railways Class 165 train (sitting in the Quiet Zone), on a train ride from Solihull to Birmingham Moor Street.

dndimg alt="Olton Reservoir" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Olton Reservoir (Apr 2018).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Warwick Road railway bridge, Olton

This is the railway bridge on the Warwick Road in Olton, Solihull where you can see Olton Reservoir. This view from June 2010, as a Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman train passed over it. You can see the reservoir from the train window. If it's clear and not too bright that is (or raining).

dndimg alt="Warwick Road railway bridge Olton" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Warwick Rd RB Olton (Jun 2010).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

By October 2016, Network Rail had give the bridge a fresh lick of green paint, making it look as good as new.

dndimg alt="Warwick Road railway bridge Olton" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Warwick Rd RB Olton (Oct 2016).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Another look at the Warwick Road railway bridge in Olton during February 2021. Taken during a lockdown 3 walk to the Grand Union Canal and back home. If you are in a car, sorry you won't be able to spot the reservoir from down there. I didn't get a train again until April 2021 (after restrictions were eased). But not got a train between Solihull and Olton since sometime in 2020.

dndimg alt="Warwick Road railway bridge Olton" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Warwick Rd RB Olton (Feb 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Photos and video taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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23 Jun 2021 - Elliott Brown
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Walsall Arboretum - a historic Victorian public park!

A short walk away from Walsall Town Centre is Walsall Arboretum, which is Walsall's public park. First opened in 1874, originally as a paid for attraction, the local council bought it and reopened it as a free to enter public park in 1884. From 2010 to 2015 there was a refurbishment programme here, including opening a Visitor Centre. Hatherton Lake has a boat house and bandstand.

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Walsall Arboretum - a historic Victorian public park!





A short walk away from Walsall Town Centre is Walsall Arboretum, which is Walsall's public park. First opened in 1874, originally as a paid for attraction, the local council bought it and reopened it as a free to enter public park in 1884. From 2010 to 2015 there was a refurbishment programme here, including opening a Visitor Centre. Hatherton Lake has a boat house and bandstand.


Walsall Arboretum

 

I got the train back to Walsall from Birmingham New Street. Starting from platform 4c, the train went via the Soho Loop Line (meaning it bypasses Perry Barr and Aston, and doesn't stop at Hamstead or Bescot Stadium as it was the train to Rugeley Trent Valley). The only stop before Walsall was Tame Bridge Parkway. From the station, it was around a 15 minute walk, via the High Street and Council House in Walsall. Then you have to cross the traffic lights at the busy junction of Broadway North with Littleton Street East. Which was also near Queen Mary's High School. Your first sight of the arboretum is the Arboretum Lodge.

 

History of Walsall Arboretum

The Arboretum was built on the site of Reynolds Hall, which was the home of the Persehouse family from the 16th century. By the 18th century the estate had been inherited by the Littleton family, who developed lime quarries in Walsall. By the 1840s, one of the quarries had been flooded, and was used by local people for bathing and skiing. The then Mayor of Walsall during 1844 drowned in the lake, by then known as Hatherton Lake. By the 1850s, the quarries was being surrounded by villas and Queen Mary's Grammar School.

The Walsall Arboretum and Lake Company was formed in 1870, and plans started to turn the estate into a park. Plans included the building of two lodges, a boat house and bandstand by the county surveyor Robert Griffiths. The Arboretum was laid out from 1872 and opened to paying customers by 1874. In the following decade the Arboretum Company ran into financial difficulties, and it was sold to the Town Council, who opened it up as a free public park in 1884.

There was a major refurbishment programme in the park from 2010 until 2015, this included restoring the buildings, the lakes etc, and building a new Visitor Centre. 

A bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome, an author born in Walsall was unveiled in 2016, while a bronze statue of a horse was relocated to the park in 2017.

 

West Midlands Cycle Hire

Before entering the park, I spotted a new West Midlands Cycle Hire docking point on Broadway North, so checked that out first. At least two bikes were not properly in the dock.

dndimg alt="West Midlands Cycle Hire" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/WMCH Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Later after leaving the park, saw a man with a white van, loading some bikes into the van, and making sure the other bikes were properly in the dock. I did not find any other West Midlands Cycle Hire docks in Walsall on this visit.

dndimg alt="West Midlands Cycle Hire" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/WMCH Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The Arboretum Lodge

This is the main entrance to the park at the corner of Lichfield Street and Broadway North. Built in 1872, it was originally the subscription paid for entrance to the park, but has been free to enter here since the local Council bought the park in 1884. It is now near the busy traffic junction on the Walsall ring road. It has a distinctive clock tower.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Lodge Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

As I entered, I saw the bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome and a man riding one of the new West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes out of the park.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Lodge Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Bronze bust of Jerome K. Jerome

The Walsall born author of Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome (1859 - 1927) was honoured with a bronze bust, close to The Arboretum Lodge. It was sculpted by local artist Phil Kelly, and was unveiled in June 2016. Jerome was a Freeman of the Borough of Walsall, and the Jerome K. Jerome Society lobbied for a sculpture to be made to recognise him, in the town of his birth.

dndimg alt="Jerome K. Jerome" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/JKJ Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Jerome K. Jerome was born on the 2nd May 1859 at Belsize House on Bradford Street in Walsall. The Grade II listed house used to be a museum from the 1980s until 2007-08. The Jerome K. Jerome Society is hoping to find a new home for the exhibits that used to be in the museum.

dndimg alt="Jerome K. Jerome" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/JKJ Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Hatherton Lake

Originally a quarry pit, it was later flooded, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a lake used for bathing and skiing. There is a boat house on one side (built 1874) and a Bandstand (built 1924) on the other side.

This view of Hatherton Lake towards the bandstand.

dndimg alt="Hatherton Lake" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Hatheron Lk Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

This view of Hatherton Lake towards the boat house.

dndimg alt="Hatherton Lake" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Hatheron Lk Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Later found an upper path that led back to the lake, and got this view with a distinctive Victorian style lamppost.

dndimg alt="Hatherton Lake" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Hatheron Lk Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Another view towards the boat house on the opposite side of the lake. Hard to believe it used to be a quarry pit until the mid 19th Century.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Walsall Arb (June 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

One more view from the benches viewing area on Broadway North of the lake. Noticed that there is no steps or ramp down to the park from up here, you have to enter via the lodge, or anther gate.

dndimg alt="Hatherton Lake" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Hatheron Lk Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Boat House

The Boat House is the only Grade II listed building in the park, dating to 1874. Probably designed by the county surveyor Robert Griffiths. It is a timber-framed building with hipped tiled roofs and a raised lantern. It has cast-iron columns and a concrete base supports above the water level. It is on Hatherton Lake.

First saw the boat house going in a clockwise direction around the lake.

dndimg alt="Boat House Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Boat House Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Later saw the boat house on the walk back to the lodge,  just after passing the poppy field, and from the opposite side of the lake. Hard to believe it was opened around 1874-75. Especially with all the modern alterations to it.

dndimg alt="Boat House Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Boat House Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Bandstand

The present bandstand was erected in 1924, replacing a previous structure on the same site that was built in 1873, which was of the conventional octagonal form. It is near Hatherton Lake.

The first view of the bandstand from the opposite side of the lake, shortly after I first arrived in the park.

dndimg alt="Bandstand Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Bandstand Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The second view going off the upper path, was an area where you could look down at the bandstand and the lake below.

dndimg alt="Bandstand Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Bandstand Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre was opened in November 2015. The opening of the visitor centre was the culmination of the arboretum restoration programme, delivered 2010 - 2015. Within the new building is retained a former agricultural building that pre dates the park. The new centre was wrapped around this key historic feature.

On the left is the Industrial Garden featuring Fluffy the Oss.

dndimg alt="Visitor Centre Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/VC Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Bronze horse statue of Fluffy the Oss

This statue of a bronze horse was originally commissioned by Walsall Council in the 1990s, and used to be outside of the Civic Centre. But due to vandalism, it was removed to storage. Years later it was restored to the condition it is in now, and installed in the Industrial Garden near the Visitor Centre at the Arboretum in 2017. It was originally sculpted by Marjan Wouda. The garden celebrates Walsall's industrial heritage and is situated by the site of the old limestone workings.

Fluffy the Oss is a feature of the Industrial Garden at Walsall Arboretum.

dndimg alt="Fluffy the Oss" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Fluffy Oss Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The Leckie Building

This building was built from 1902, and opened in 1904 as the Pavillion Refreshment Room. It was designed by H. E. Lavender, and was the focal point of the park. It closed down in 1931, but reopened in 1936 as the  Joseph Leckie Sons of Rest Social Club for older adults which it remains to this day.

First view from the path to the centre of the park, but was a pair of trees in the way of the view.

dndimg alt="The Leckie Building" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Leckie Bldg Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Later walking back to the lake and lodge, got a pair of rear views.

dndimg alt="The Leckie Building" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Leckie Bldg Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

There was a stone dated 1902 at the back of The Leckie Building.

dndimg alt="The Leckie Building" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Leckie Bldg Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Ladies Bowl Pavillion

This was originally a refreshment pavillion built in 1934. It was called the Richard B Sutton shelter. It was built of Cotswold Stone under a tiled hipped roof, with a locally supported by circular section rustic stone columns. In 2003 it became the club house for the Ladies Bowls Club.

This was near the halfway point of the park, saw a Welcome to Walsall Arboretum sign / map, and then followed another path back towards the lodge and lake.

dndimg alt="Ladies Bowl Pavillion" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Ladies Bowl Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden was quite close to The Leckie Building. This was an upper path view of it.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rose Gdn Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

There was these steps with railings down the middle and a semi circlular arch above.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Rose Gdn Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

Summer Poppy Field

The poppy field is quite a sight to see at Walsall Arboretum each summer. It is close to Broadway North and Arboretum Road, and not far from the bandstand.

dndimg alt="Poppy field" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Poppies Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

I wasn't the only one to stop and take photos of this poppy field, even dog walkers stopped to take a look!

dndimg alt="Poppy field" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Poppies Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A macro zoom in to one of the poppies.

dndimg alt="Poppy field" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Poppies Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

After I left the park, a look at the poppy field over the wall from Broadway North.

dndimg alt="Poppy field" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Poppies Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

The best of the rest of the park

Having just passed the Arboretum Lodge, and bust of Jerome K. Jerome, I saw these flower beds to the right of the path.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

The paths around the Arboretum. This one (below) was between Hatherton Lake (right) and the Deep Pond (left).

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Paths Walsall Arb (June 2021) (1).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

While I was checking out the Hatherton Lake, I also saw the small pool to the left of the path. This is also called the Deep Pond. Behind is the villas on Victoria Terrace, which indirectly led to the quarry here closing, and the land being landscaped as a arboretum / park.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Walsall Arb (Jun 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

After the Visitor Centre, the long path that runs past The Leckie Building. A lot of tree coverage here.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Path Leckie Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

A view of the Hoar Brook that flows through the Arboretum. Didn't see much of it, other than this view.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Hoar Brook Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Near an area called The Lion's Den. Briefly went off the main path to the left. Then back over the area with picnic benches near the Ladies Bowls Pavillion (on the right).

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Lions Den Walsall Arb (Jun 2021).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

This path was after the halfway point of the park, and the start of the walk back to the lake and lodge. Lots of trees, after all this is an arboretum!

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Paths Walsall Arb (June 2021) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Some hills as the path goes around a curve, and more trees. Perhaps this landscape was carved out as the quarry, then later grassed over from the 1870s.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Paths Walsall Arb (June 2021) (3).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Now on the path that follows the wall (on the left) near Arboretum Road. Down below (to the right) is Hatherton Lake and the Hoar Brook.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Paths Walsall Arb (June 2021) (4).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Eventually the path goes back down towards the lake, as you can see here.

dndimg alt="Walsall Arboretum" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Paths Walsall Arb (June 2021) (5).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

 

After I left the park I saw WM bus 6600. It was on the National Express West Midlands, Black Country Bus Rally from Walsall to Wolverhampton. This was the only bus I saw. It was on Broadway North crossing the lights onto Littleton Street East (the Walsall ring road). Click the link above for the photos.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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